Careers, Disability, and Adaptability

by guest blogger and student leader in Student Life Programs, Michelle Woolfrey

Earlier in November, I attended a panel discussion through the Career Centre called Voices of Experience. This is a monthly event with each month focusing on a different topic. This month’s topic was careers and disability. There were 5 panelists all with an incredibly impressive resume as well as a number of stories to share with the audience about their experience of navigating the career world as a person with a disability.

As a person with a disability myself, I was intrigued to hear about their experiences and soak up any tips they might have for a future graduate. During the event I was reminded of a couple of key points.

Embrace Your Disability

Don’t try and hide it. Often, as a person with a disability you are told that it will be challenging to find an employer who is willing to work with your unique needs. However, panelist Maayan put an interesting spin on this all too common thought process. When she embraced her disability and chose to see it as an asset, the type of people she started to work with were drastically different. They were creative thinkers who looked at the world through a different lens and because of this she herself has been exposed to new perspectives and experiences.

Accept Change

Panelist Donna Mullings talked about how her world changed when she acquired a disability later in life. She talked about how she needed to allow herself a period to grieve but also needed to get back up and figure out how this change was going to affect her life. When she accepted this change she learned the skill of adaptability and as an employee this made her valuable. Donna also mentioned that learning adaptability has been beneficial as sometimes employers don’t understand accommodations and by being adaptable she can come up with a solution before issues arise.

Overall the evening was amazing and I learned so much from the panelists. I left feeling inspired by the panelists and it was great to get a chance following the panel to network with them, continuing to learn from their knowledge. I think these events and this topic in particular are so important to students. It is incredibly valuable as a student to connect with someone who is making their career work for them. Often as a student I have felt like I am trekking through tall grass, not really sure where to turn when I get lost or confused. This panel showed me not only have other people felt that way but also they have overcome that feeling and are excelling in their perspective fields.

On November 26th the Career Centre is hosting another instalment of this series on the topic of Startups and Entrepreneurship. I would encourage any student who is interested in taking their career in this direction to check this event out. It promises to be a good event full of ideas and inspiration. Find out more about the series, here.